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1.  Desmosome dynamics in migrating epithelial cells requires the actin cytoskeleton 
Experimental cell research  2011;317(20):2814-2822.
Re-modeling of epithelial tissues requires that the cells in the tissue rearrange their adhesive contacts in order to allow cells to migrate relative to neighboring cells. Desmosomes are prominent adhesive structures found in a variety of epithelial tissues that are believed to inhibit cell migration and invasion. Mechanisms regulating desmosome assembly and stability in migrating cells are largely unknown. In this study we established a cell culture model to examine the fate of desmosomal components during scratch wound migration. Desmosomes are rapidly assembled between epithelial cells at the lateral edges of migrating cells and structures are transported in a retrograde fashion while the structures become larger and mature. Desmosome assembly and dynamics in this system are dependent on the actin cytoskeleton prior to being associated with the keratin intermediate filament cytoskeleton. These studies extend our understanding of desmosome assembly and provide a system to examine desmosome assembly and dynamics during epithelial cell migration.
PMCID: PMC3215790  PMID: 21945137
desmosome; desmocollin; plakophilin-3; actin; live cell microscopy; motility
2.  Slug (SNAI2) expression in oral SCC cells results in altered cell-cell adhesion and increased motility 
Cell Adhesion & Migration  2011;5(4):315-322.
The Snail family of zinc finger transcription factors plays an important role in epithelial to mesenchymal transition (EMT) in a variety of tissues and systems. Slug (SNAI2) expression has been shown to directly contribute to a subset of events required for EMT in events such as re-epithelialization during wound healing and neural crest cell migration. In addition, slug expression was shown to correlate with disease recurrence in head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC) patients. Based on this association we chose to specifically examine the effects of exogenous slug expression in HNSCC cells and specifically assess adhesive junction assembly and the motility characteristics in these cells. Slug expression led to changes in adherens junction and desmosome assembly characterized by a classical cadherin switch and loss of desmosome assembly. Additionally, we performed gene expression profiling to identify novel Slug-dependent gene expression changes in a HNSCC cell line. In addition to genes known to be altered during EMT, we identified a novel set of Slug responsive genes that will provide a better understanding of slug overexpression during EMT and HNSCC progression.
PMCID: PMC3210299  PMID: 21785273
Slug (SNAI2); cell-cell adhesion; cell motility; microarray; cadherin
3.  Desmosomal Component Expression in Normal, Dysplastic, and Oral Squamous Cell Carcinoma 
Squamous cell carcinoma (oral SCC) is the most common oral cancer in the U.S., affecting nearly 30,000 Americans each year. Despite recent advances in detection and treatment, there has been little improvement in the five-year survival rate for this devastating disease. Oral cancer may be preceded by premalignant disease that appears histologically as dysplasia. Identification of molecular markers for cellular change would assist in determining the risk of dysplasia progressing to oral squamous cell carcinoma. The goal of this study was to determine if any correlation exists between histological diagnosed dysplasia and OSCC lesions and altered expression of desmosomal cell-cell adhesion molecules in the oral epithelium. Our data showed that oral SCC tissue samples showed decreased immunoreactivity of both desmoplakin and plakophilin-1 proteins compared to normal oral epithelium. Furthermore, significant decrease in desmoplakin immunoreactivity was observed in dysplastic tissue compared to normal oral epithelium. In contrast, the level of desmoglein-1 staining was unchanged between samples however desmoglein-1 was found localized to cell borders in oral SCC samples. These data suggest that changes in expression of desmoplakin and plakophilin-1 may prove to be a useful marker for changes in tissue morphology and provide a tool for identifying pre-neoplastic lesions of the oral cavity.
PMCID: PMC2879963  PMID: 20585603
4.  Stratifin (14-3-3 σ) Limits Plakophilin-3 Exchange with the Desmosomal Plaque 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(10):e77012.
Desmosomes are prominent cell-cell adhesive junctions in stratified squamous epithelia and disruption of desmosomal adhesion has been shown to have dramatic effects on the function and integrity of these tissues. During normal physiologic processes, such as tissue development and wound healing, intercellular adhesion must be modified locally to allow coordinated cell movements. The mechanisms that control junction integrity and adhesive strength under these conditions are poorly understood. We utilized a proteomics approach to identify plakophilin-3 associated proteins and identified the 14-3-3 family member stratifin. Stratifin interacts specifically with plakophilin-3 and not with other plakophilin isoforms and mutation analysis demonstrated the binding site includes serine 285 in the amino terminal head domain of plakophilin-3. Stratifin interacts with a cytoplasmic pool of plakophilin-3 and is not associated with the desmosome in cultured cells. FRAP analysis revealed that decreased stratifin expression leads to an increase in the exchange rate of cytoplasmic plakophilin-3/GFP with the pool of plakophilin-3/GFP in the desmosome resulting in decreased desmosomal adhesion and increased cell migration. We propose a model by which stratifin plays a role in regulating plakophilin-3 incorporation into the desmosomal plaque by forming a plakophilin-3 stratifin complex in the cytosol and thereby affecting desmosome dynamics in squamous epithelial cells.
PMCID: PMC3790753  PMID: 24124604
5.  Monoclonal Antibodies Against Xenopus Greatwall Kinase 
Hybridoma  2011;30(5):469-474.
Mitosis is known to be regulated by protein kinases, including MPF, Plk1, Aurora kinases, and so on, which become active in M-phase and phosphorylate a wide range of substrates to control multiple aspects of mitotic entry, progression, and exit. Mechanistic investigations of these kinases not only provide key insights into cell cycle regulation, but also hold great promise for cancer therapy. Recent studies, largely in Xenopus, characterized a new mitotic kinase named Greatwall (Gwl) that plays essential roles in both mitotic entry and maintenance. In this study, we generated a panel of mouse monoclonal antibodies (MAbs) specific for Xenopus Gwl and characterized these antibodies for their utility in immunoblotting, immunoprecipitation, and immunodepletion in Xenopus egg extracts. Importantly, we generated an MAb that is capable of neutralizing endogenous Gwl. The addition of this antibody into M-phase extracts results in loss of mitotic phosphorylation of Gwl, Plk1, and Cdk1 substrates. These results illustrate a new tool to study loss-of-function of Gwl, and support its essential role in mitosis. Finally, we demonstrated the usefulness of the MAb against human Gwl/MASTL.
PMCID: PMC3199536  PMID: 22008075
6.  A role for caveolin-1 in desmoglein binding and desmosome dynamics 
Oncogene  2011;31(13):1636-1648.
Desmoglein 2 (Dsg2) is a desmosomal cadherin that is aberrantly expressed in human skin carcinomas. In addition to its well-known role in mediating intercellular desmosomal adhesion, Dsg2 regulates mitogenic signaling that may promote cancer development and progression. However, the mechanisms by which Dsg2 activates these signaling pathways and the relative contribution of its signaling and adhesion functions in tumor progression are poorly understood. In this study we show that Dsg2 associates with caveolin-1 (Cav-1), the major protein of specialized membrane microdomains called caveolae, which functions in both membrane protein turnover and intracellular signaling. Sequence analysis revealed that Dsg2 contains a putative Cav-1 binding motif. A permeable competing peptide resembling the Cav-1 scaffolding domain bound to Dsg2, disrupted normal Dsg2 staining and interfered with the integrity of epithelial sheets in vitro. Additionally, we observed that Dsg2 is proteolytically processed; resulting in a 95 kDa ectodomain shed product and a 65 kDa membrane-spanning fragment, the latter of which localizes to lipid rafts along with full-length Dsg2. Disruption of lipid rafts shifted Dsg2 to the non-raft fractions, leading to the accumulation of these proteins. Interestingly, Dsg2 proteolytic products are elevated in vivo in skin tumors from transgenic mice overexpressing Dsg2. Collectively, these data are consistent with the possibility that accumulation of truncated Dsg2 protein interferes with desmosome assembly and/or maintenance to disrupt cell-cell adhesion. Furthermore, the association of Dsg2 with Cav-1 may provide a mechanism for regulating mitogenic signaling and modulating the cell surface presentation of an important adhesion molecule, both of which could contribute to malignant transformation and tumor progression.
PMCID: PMC3228894  PMID: 21841821
Carcinogenesis; Caveolin; Caveolae; Desmoglein; Keratinocyte
7.  Hyaluronan suppresses prostate tumor cell proliferation through diminished expression of N-cadherin and aberrant growth factor receptor signaling 
Experimental cell research  2011;317(8):1214-1225.
Hyaluronan (HA) production has been functionally implicated in prostate tumorigenesis and metastasis. We previously used prostate tumor cells overexpressing the HA synthesizing enzyme HAS3 or the clinically relevant hyaluronidase Hyal1 to show that excess HA production suppresses tumor growth, while HA turnover accelerates spontaneous metastasis from the prostate. Here, we examined pathways responsible for effects of HAS3 and Hyal1 on tumor cell phenotype. Detailed characterization of cell cycle progression revealed that expression of Hyal1 accelerated cell cycle re-entry following synchronization, whereas HAS3 alone delayed entry. Hyal1 expressing cells exhibited a significant reduction in their ability to sustain ERK phosphorylation upon stimulation by growth factors, and in their expression of the cyclin dependent kinase inhibitor p21. In contrast, HAS3 expressing cells showed prolonged ERK phosphorylation and increased expression of both p21 and p27, in asynchronous and synchronized cultures. Changes in cell cycle regulatory proteins were accompanied by HA-induced suppression of N-cadherin, while E-cadherin expression and β-catenin expression and distribution remained unchanged. Our results are consistent with a model in which excess HA synthesis suppresses cell proliferation by promoting homotypic E-cadherin mediated cell-cell adhesion, consequently signaling to elevate cell cycle inhibitor expression and suppress G1 to S phase transition.
PMCID: PMC3070779  PMID: 21315068
Hyaluronan; prostate cancer; cadherin; integrin; cell adhesion; cell cycle
8.  Desmoglein 2 is a receptor for adenovirus serotypes 3, 7, 11, and 14 
Nature medicine  2010;17(1):96-104.
We have identified desmoglein 2 (DSG2) as the primary high-affinity receptor used by adenovirus (Ad) serotypes Ad3, Ad7, Ad11, and Ad14. These serotypes represent important human pathogens causing respiratory tract infections. In epithelial cells, adenovirus binding to DSG2 triggers events reminiscent of epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition, leading to transient opening of intercellular junctions. This improves access to receptors, e.g. CD46 and Her2/neu, that are trapped in intercellular junctions. In addition to complete virions, dodecahedral particles (PtDd), formed by viral penton and fiber in excess during viral replication, can trigger DSG2-mediated opening of intercellular junctions as shown by studies with recombinant Ad3 PtDd. Our findings shed light on adenovirus biology and pathogenesis and have implications for cancer therapy.
PMCID: PMC3074512  PMID: 21151137
9.  Generation and Characterization of Monoclonal Antibodies Against the Proregion of Human Desmoglein-2 
Hybridoma  2008;27(4):249-258.
Cadherins are synthesized with a signal sequence and a proregion that must be removed for optimal adhesive activity. Mutations that prevent processing of cadherins have been implicated in a number of human diseases; thus understanding their processing is critical. In this study, we produced and characterized a number of monoclonal antibodies against the proregion of the desmosomal cadherin, human desmoglein-2, that will facilitate investigations into the processing of this protein.
PMCID: PMC3186698  PMID: 18707543
10.  Plakophilin 2: a critical scaffold for PKCα that regulates intercellular junction assembly 
The Journal of Cell Biology  2008;181(4):605-613.
Plakophilins (PKPs) are armadillo family members related to the classical cadherin-associated protein p120ctn. PKPs localize to the cytoplasmic plaque of intercellular junctions and participate in linking the intermediate filament (IF)-binding protein desmoplakin (DP) to desmosomal cadherins. In response to cell–cell contact, PKP2 associates with DP in plaque precursors that form in the cytoplasm and translocate to nascent desmosomes. Here, we provide evidence that PKP2 governs DP assembly dynamics by scaffolding a DP–PKP2–protein kinase Cα (PKCα) complex, which is disrupted by PKP2 knockdown. The behavior of a phosphorylation-deficient DP mutant that associates more tightly with IF is mimicked by PKP2 and PKCα knockdown and PKC pharmacological inhibition, all of which impair junction assembly. PKP2 knockdown is accompanied by increased phosphorylation of PKC substrates, raising the possibility that global alterations in PKC signaling may contribute to pathogenesis of congenital defects caused by PKP2 deficiency.
PMCID: PMC2386101  PMID: 18474624
11.  NHERF Links the N-Cadherin/Catenin Complex to the Platelet-derived Growth Factor Receptor to Modulate the Actin Cytoskeleton and Regulate Cell Motility 
Molecular Biology of the Cell  2007;18(4):1220-1232.
Using phage display, we identified Na+/H+ exchanger regulatory factor (NHERF)-2 as a novel binding partner for the cadherin-associated protein, β-catenin. We showed that the second of two PSD-95/Dlg/ZO-1 (PDZ) domains of NHERF interacts with a PDZ-binding motif at the very carboxy terminus of β-catenin. N-cadherin expression has been shown to induce motility in a number of cell types. The first PDZ domain of NHERF is known to bind platelet-derived growth factor-receptor β (PDGF-Rβ), and the interaction of PDGF-Rβ with NHERF leads to enhanced cell spreading and motility. Here we show that β-catenin and N-cadherin are in a complex with NHERF and PDGF-Rβ at membrane ruffles in the highly invasive fibrosarcoma cell line HT1080. Using a stable short hairpin RNA system, we showed that HT1080 cells knocked down for either N-cadherin or NHERF had impaired ability to migrate into the wounded area in a scratch assay, similar to cells treated with a PDGF-R kinase inhibitor. Cells expressing a mutant NHERF that is unable to associate with β-catenin had increased stress fibers, reduced lamellipodia, and impaired cell migration. Using HeLa cells, which express little to no PDGF-R, we introduced PDGF-Rβ and showed that it coimmunoprecipitates with N-cadherin and that PDGF-dependent cell migration was reduced in these cells when we knocked-down expression of N-cadherin or NHERF. These studies implicate N-cadherin and β-catenin in cell migration via PDGF-R–mediated signaling through the scaffolding molecule NHERF.
PMCID: PMC1838972  PMID: 17229887
12.  Cross-Talk between Adherens Junctions and Desmosomes Depends on Plakoglobin 
The Journal of Cell Biology  1997;136(4):919-934.
Squamous epithelial cells have both adherens junctions and desmosomes. The ability of these cells to organize the desmosomal proteins into a functional structure depends upon their ability first to organize an adherens junction. Since the adherens junction and the desmosome are separate structures with different molecular make up, it is not immediately obvious why formation of an adherens junction is a prerequisite for the formation of a desmosome. The adherens junction is composed of a transmembrane classical cadherin (E-cadherin and/or P-cadherin in squamous epithelial cells) linked to either β-catenin or plakoglobin, which is linked to α-catenin, which is linked to the actin cytoskeleton. The desmosome is composed of transmembrane proteins of the broad cadherin family (desmogleins and desmocollins) that are linked to the intermediate filament cytoskeleton, presumably through plakoglobin and desmoplakin. To begin to study the role of adherens junctions in the assembly of desmosomes, we produced an epithelial cell line that does not express classical cadherins and hence is unable to organize desmosomes, even though it retains the requisite desmosomal components. Transfection of E-cadherin and/or P-cadherin into this cell line did not restore the ability to organize desmosomes; however, overexpression of plakoglobin, along with E-cadherin, did permit desmosome organization. These data suggest that plakoglobin, which is the only known common component to both adherens junctions and desmosomes, must be linked to E-cadherin in the adherens junction before the cell can begin to assemble desmosomal components at regions of cell–cell contact. Although adherens junctions can form in the absence of plakoglobin, making use only of β-catenin, such junctions cannot support the formation of desmosomes. Thus, we speculate that plakoglobin plays a signaling role in desmosome organization.
PMCID: PMC2132504  PMID: 9049256

Results 1-12 (12)